Art of Language

The Art of Language: Selected Essays
by Kenneth Cox
Edited with an introduction by Jenny Penberthy
Flood Editions, 2016.
ISBN 978-0-9903407-7-5 $17.95

This volume gathers twenty-four essays by the English critic Kenneth Cox (1916–2005) on various writers, including James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Basil Bunting, Louis Zukofsky, and Lorine Niedecker. In each case, Cox’s exposition proves rigorous, idiosyncratic, drily passionate, and full of keen insights. Always, he proceeds with an “emphasis on literature as the art of language.”

“I have learned more from Kenneth Cox’s essays than from any other living critic of twentieth-century poetry. He writes with masterly directness about the masters of indirection, and his summarizing power rivals that of Samuel Johnson.”
Thom Gunn

“As pure writing—literature, if you will—his essays deserve to be read and reread as one would those of William Hazlitt or Joseph Mitchell. They refresh and delight. They are a tonic for the mind and are best approached in the morning hours; one’s entire day will be the better for it. Meanwhile, as proposition, explication, and argument of any given text, they are without equal.”
August Kleinzahler, from his afterword

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